Circuit Judicial Council in the United States
Entity designed to maximize the efficiency of federal courts within the geographic circuits. A circuit judicial council consists of the court of appeals judges from the circuit as well as a small number of district court judges. While council policies are typically followed voluntarily, councils are empowered by federal law to order judges within their respective circuits to comply with their directives. The councils watch the district court caseloads and the assignment of judges in an effort to ensure that trial courts remain as current as possible. Each circuit also has its own judicial conference. These circuit conferences are required by law to meet at least once a year. The conferences facilitate discussion of topics of mutual concern among the district court and court of appeals judges in the circuit.
Analysis and Relevance
The circuit judicial councils are located in the middle levels of federal court administration. While certain management benefits do result, two major drawbacks can be identified. First, the councils seem unable to establish and enforce uniform standards. This is true because the councils are drawn from regional geographic bases, which encourages decentralization, autonomy of circuits, and localism. Second, court of appeals judges on the councils do not perceive themselves as administrative overseers of the trial courts. On the contrary, they see themselves as professional colleagues and seldom engage in real supervision.
Notes and References
- Definition of Circuit Judicial Council from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California